False Facts About Ozzy Osbourne You Always Thought Were True

Ozzy Osbourne has been rock's dark prince for 50 years now. Providing menacing vocals for Black Sabbath and his own solo work, Osbourne is the voice of heavy metal, a status earned by belting and shrieking his way through such headbanging classics as "Iron Man," "Paranoid," "Shot in the Dark," and "Mama, I'm Coming Home." Plus, Osbourne enjoyed an unlikely comeback in the 2000s as the star of MTV's The Osbournes, a comic reality show about the metal legend and his wacky family.

But despite all that, Ozzy Osbourne, a legendary libertine and partier, might be better known for all of the stories about him. Some have reached mythological proportions, which makes a fan wonder ... are all those epic stories about Ozzy actually true? Osbourne has lived a life so unbelievable and over-the-top that many bonkers stories about him are indeed real. But a lot of common knowledge out there about the man is just plain wrong. From his very name to his incidents with live animals, here are the false facts about Ozzy Osbourne that you always thought were true.

His name is Ozzy

"Ozzy Osbourne" has a certain ring to it — it must be the double "oz" sound. It's catchy, memorable, and it probably helped in some way to make the rock singer a household name for five decades. The only thing is that it's not his real name. 

His actual name — which is perfectly fine but rather ordinary — is John Michael Osbourne, and he was born into a working-class family in Birmingham, England, in 1948. Early in his days in school, some other student started calling him "Ozzy" out of the blue. "It was just a nickname for Osbourne, I suppose, but it fitted my clownish personality," Osbourne wrote in I Am Ozzy. He also explained that "as soon as it stuck," even his immediate family members started addressing him by the moniker. "I don't even recognize my birth name now. If someone says, 'Oi, John! Over 'ere!' I don't even look up." About the only people who don't call the man Ozzy are judges and government officials, because he apparently never officially changed it away from John.

Ozzy Osbourne left Black Sabbath to pursue a solo career

Ozzy Osbourne was the premiere heavy metal act in two separate decades, albeit in two different incarnations. As frontman of Black Sabbath, he helped invent and popularize dark and heavy rock in the '70s, with his wailing, menacing vocals on songs like "Paranoid" and "War Pigs." In the '80s, Osbourne went solo, adopting a radio-friendly pop sheen (but losing none of his edge) on "Crazy Train" and "Bark at the Moon." 

However, his leaving Black Sabbath for a solo career wasn't the usual story of a lead singer ditching their band to go it alone and find fame and fortune, like George Michael of Wham! or Peter Gabriel of Genesis, for example. Instead, Osbourne's solo gambit was born out of necessity, as the rest of Black Sabbath fired him in 1979. According to the BBC, Osbourne's bandmates grew fed up with his wild, alcohol-and-drug related behavior, along with his tendency to not show up for recording sessions. At the very end of the '70s, and after about a decade as a foursome, guitarist Tony Iommi proposed kicking Osbourne out of the band. Out was Ozzy, and in came Ronnie James Dio.

He worships Satan

Both the music and imagery associated with Ozzy Osbourne — both in his solo career and in his time with Black Sabbath — can be frightening. After all, he's often hiding behind dark glasses, with his mouth agape and hands held up high like the wings of a dark angel, all while he's singing from a black-shrouded stage about subjects like the famed occultist Aleister Crowley. Naturally, all that could lead one to believe that Osbourne is spiritually aligned with Satan. (Also, the name "Black Sabbath" conjures up the idea of an evil mass, and the man calls himself "the Prince of Darkness.") 

But it would seem that it's all just an act — the evil is fake evil, a hook to draw in fans to his provocative persona and stage show. "I'm not a guy that worships the [expletive deleted] devil," Osbourne told The San Diego Union-Tribune. "When Black Sabbath started, we got invited to an [expletive deleted] graveyard at midnight. We told them: 'Our image is a joke.'" Osbourne added that he aims "to be good." And according to a New York Times profile, Osbourne is actually playing for the other team. He's a member of the Church of England, a Christian sect, and even prays before he takes the stage.

Ozzy Osbourne relieved himself on the Alamo

One just doesn't "mess with Texas" as the saying goes, which includes respecting the state and former independent nation's sacred historical sites. For example, the Alamo, which sits in San Antonio, is a former mission and the site of a pivotal and deadly 1836 battle in the Texas Revolution. So it would be incredibly rude, to say the least, to relieve oneself on the walls of the building. And yet, a story persists that in February 1982, during a visit to the Alamo, Ozzy Osbourne did just that. 

However, while Osbourne did stop by the Texas landmark in early 1982, he didn't urinate on the Alamo itself. He emptied his bladder upon the Alamo Cenotaph, a 60-foot-tall statue built in 1939 in memory of the 189 Texan freedom fighters who died in 1836. Osbourne was arrested for intoxication and public urination, and he was released on $40 bond. Had he urinated on the actual Alamo, Osbourne would've faced a more severe punishment. "If he had, the police wouldn't have arrested him," an Alamo guide told the Boston Herald (via Blabbermouth). "They would have beaten him to within an inch of his life.

Ozzy Osbourne bit the head off of a live bat

It's one of rock's most famous urban legends and one of the music industry's most distinctively Ozzy Osbourne moments. Supposedly, the so-called "Prince of Darkness" once bit the head off of a live bat during a concert, proving his heavy metal mettle. That's all true ... but it's not the whole truth. 

In January 1982, Ozzy Osbourne's Diary of a Madman Tour hit Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Des Moines, Iowa. In Mick Wall's biography Black Sabbath: Symptom of the Universe, Osbourne attests that he did put the head of a bat into his mouth that cold night in Iowa, believing that it was "a f***ing toy," until, that is, "its wings started flapping." Osbourne's take is different from that of Mark Neal, the concertgoer who told The Des Moines Register (via USA Today) that he's the one who brought the bat to the concert (in a plastic sandwich bag) and then tossed it up on stage. Neal says the bat was dead by the time he threw it up to Osbourne. Regardless of its state, the head came off when Osbourne clamped down on it, requiring the singer to hit up a nearby hospital after the concert to procure rabies shots.

He once snorted a line of ants in front of Motley Crüe

The Dirt is probably the most salacious, eye-popping rock 'n' roll memoir of all time because it's about Motley Crüe, one of the most openly and proudly debauched bands to ever play. One of the most memorable scenes in the book (co-written by every member of the band) and the 2019 film adaptation is the one in 1980-something, where members of the Crüe hang out poolside at a hotel with tour mate Ozzy Osbourne. As it plays out in the film, Osbourne (portrayed by Tony Cavalero) gives a rambling talk about the pitfalls of drugs and life on the road ... then falls to his knees, and with the aid of a straw, snorts a line of live ants "with a single, monstrous snort," as described in The Dirt (via Vanity Fair). 

But did it all actually go down that way? According to Motley Crüe member Nikki Sixx, it did, while Osbourne says he has "absolutely no recollection of doing that." However, Osbourne's guitarist at the time, Jake E. Lee, says he was present on that fated day, and he told Tone-Talk that Osbourne absolutely did not inhale ants — he actually snorted a spider.

He's divorced from Sharon Osbourne

Ozzy Osbourne and Sharon Osbourne are two of the most colorful and outspoken celebrities in recent memory, and these two made it work. They married in 1982, had three kids together (Aimee, Kelly, and Jack Osbourne), and endured all manner of triumphs and struggles to boast of one of the longest-lasting famous person marriages. It seemed like the Osbournes were in it for the long haul ... until May 2016, when an insider told E! News that the couple had split up after more than 30 years of marriage, and that Ozzy had moved out of their home. 

Sharon Osbourne explained on her show The Talk (via Closer Weekly) that she couldn't "keep living like this," but thanked her husband for giving her "three beautiful children." However, Mr. and Mrs. Osbourne never actually went through with the divorce, and they got back together just months later. "Everything is good. Everything's on track," Sharon Osbourne said on Good Morning Britain in October 2016.

His reality show was completely real

The Osbournes was a smash hit for MTV. Debuting in 2002, when the concept of reality TV was still fresh and fascinating, audiences were captivated by the idea of seeing the supposedly wicked and strange Ozzy Osbourne living an idyllic sitcom life in a brightly lit Los Angeles mansion, bickering with his kids, and trying not to step in dog crap. However, like a lot of reality shows, The Osbournes wasn't 100 percent real but instead laced with moments and situations staged by producers. 

Two moments in particular were completely made up. First, there's an episode where a family meeting turns into a fight, and then there's the scene when the family summons a dog therapist to the home. "The most fake thing about that show was the family meeting, because that was an MTV idea," costar Kelly Osbourne told ABC (via The Independent). "The dog and the dog therapist, that was an MTV thing," she added. However, Ozzy Osbourne's publicist responded to Kelly's claims, saying, "Nothing is ever scripted or planned on The Osbournes." But if we're picking sides here, we're siding with Kelly.

He was a doddering old man on The Obsournes

A major part of the comedy of The Osbournes came from the juxtaposition of Ozzy Osbourne — black-clad heavy metal icon — shuffling around his Los Angeles mansion, getting involved in sitcom-level hijinks, and being baffled by technology, such as a TV and its complicated remote control. The end result was that Osbourne wasn't an evil rock lord but a harmless old man, who, like a lot of elderly people, had a tough time operating gadgets. 

Yes, Osbourne had a hard time navigating the modern world, but it wasn't because he was a fuddy-duddy. He was actually just drunk, high on drugs, or both. "As Ozzy will tell you, the three years that we were filming, Ozzy was stoned the whole time," Sharon Osbourne told BBC Radio 2's Line of Enquiry (via The Daily Record) in 2009. "He wasn't sober for one day." Ozzy explained that after filming would end wrap up each day, he would "go in my little bunker and smoke a pipe and drink about a case of beer." He added that he "used to do a lot of prescription drugs as well."

The Ozzy Osbourne story that's too good to not be true

You're not a real rock star until a few salacious stories about you become "common knowledge." Of course, most of these wind up being totally exaggerated or complete nonsense. However, Ozzy Osbourne has lived such an extreme rock n' roll life that some of the especially outlandish stories — the ones that seem too weird or over-the-top to actually be true — really did happen. For example, the one about how Osbourne once committed the very bloody (but also very metal) act of biting the heads off of a pair of doves? He did that.

In the run-up to the American release of his first solo album, Blizzard of Ozz, Osbourne attended a sales convention for his label, Epic Records. According to Mick Wall's Black Sabbath: Symptom of the Universe (via Ultimate Classic Rock), Osbourne was supposed to give a short speech, thanking the company for all of its promotional efforts. He was then set to end his spiel with a dramatic act: releasing three white doves into the audience of industry professionals. But Osbourne, who'd downed a bottle of brandy on the way to the convention, didn't do that. "I just remember this PR woman going on and on at me," Osbourne told Wall. "In the end, I said, 'Do you like animals?' Then I pulled out one of these doves and fit its f***ing head off. Just to shut her up."